Barriers to Broadband Adoption in India
As the telecom industry in India prepares for the next level of growth through new digital initiatives, let us look at the challenges that prevented the implementation of an effective broadband network in India in the past
Just months after India watched the grand unveiling of the ambitious Digital India and Smart Cities 100 initiatives, an industry report ranked Indian telecom industry the worst in Asia Pacific in terms of broadband speed. “Will high-speed broadband remain a myth in my lifetime?” asks an average Indian who has been frustrated with the 3G/4G services available on his mobile network. If we compare the broadband subscriber figure between India and its peers, it becomes clear that rural broadband will remain a dream for India at least for the next 5 years. With just 120.88 million subscribers, which include wireless and wireline services, India’s broadband customer base comprises just 26% of 3G and 4G subscriber base of China Mobile alone. As per ‘Measuring the Information Society Report’ of 2015 published by ITU. India is ranked 135 in both the access sub index and use sub-index, which are basically measures for Telecom Infra & penetration indicators.
As the telecom industry in India prepares for the 54 www.dqindia.com next level of growth through new digital initiatives, let us look at the challenges that prevented the implementation of an effective broadband network in India in the past.
Regulatory hurdles: Over the last decade since the advent of broadband, the regulatory authority in India missed several opportunities to formulate a proactive broadband strategy that could help address the digital divide and boost the country’s economic growth. World Bank estimates that a 10% increase in broadband penetration accelerates economic growth by 1.38% in developing countries. Regulatory hurdles apart, Indian telecom sector was hard hit by the onslaught of multiple issues and procedural delays typically associated with public offices. Telcos who got their fingers burnt in 2G taught the industry that investment in India’s telecom sector is a risky affair. Also, the reactionary policies that immediately follow such delays and implemented without having a futuristic outlook, make the scenario worse for the investors. Striking a balance between transparent measures which prevent such malfeasance and an economically viable model that facilitates a level-playing field for the participants is integral for the health of the Indian economy. A single regulatory framework that facilitates swift decision making and transparency among the stakeholders could address the challenges in rolling out a broadband infrastructure.
Lack of fibre infrastructure: The poor quality of service ( QoS) and call drop issues are primarily attributed to the country’s low investment in fibre and backhaul infrastructure. It is a well understood fact that fibre networks are the most viable medium to deliver increased data capacity and improve the quality of voice